Messages from Rabbi Russo

November 20 - 8 Kislev

Shabbat Shalom
November 20 - 21

We ended last week on a tragic note as the news broke at the start of Shabbat of two violent acts of terrorism in Paris and Beirut.  Sadly this week brought more violence with deadly attacks in Israel in Tel Aviv and Alon Shvut.  Some of us are connected with 18 year old Ezra Schwartz z''l who was killed while volunteering on a gap year program.  He was active in USY, Camp Yavnah, and graduated from the Jewish Day School Maimonides in Boston which is how many American Jews know him.  Just when we felt our hearts could not take anymore pain, we woke up to a terrible hostage take-over in a hotel in Mali this morning.  It feels like the world is spiraling out of control and it is frightening.  

As a religious leader, I am aware that our community -  together with many communities all over the world - is raw and vulnerable right now.  I encourage you to listen to your own authentic reactions to these terrible acts of violence.  Learn more about the victims.  Make space to cry and make space for fear.  Rabbi David Hoffman, a talented rabbi and Randi Shebitz's nephew, wrote a meaningful article after the Paris attacks.  He writes:
"The attack on Paris—and all that Paris represents—has shaken many of us because we are reminded of our profound vulnerability in a violent world.  There is a wise statement of Jewish law that declares: 'One whose dead lies before them is exempt from the saying of the Shema prayer, from wearing tefillin and from all of the other mitzvot of the Torah.' This dispensation extends broadly to other commandments at the moment of such intense personal tragedy...At such moments, our tradition asks us to pause and simply feel." 

My prayer this Shabbat is that we can come together as a community to feel the immensity of the loss and seek healing and hope in each other and our tradition. As prepare to bring in the light of Chanukah in a few short weeks, may we each seek the light in the world during very dark times.  

We will be celebrating Chanukah at the synagogue by lighting the candles each night.  We also have the Lots of Latkes party on December 9th from 5 pm - 7 pm.  You can make your own ceramic Hanukiyot that will be fired in a kiln afterwards.  Please RSVP to the office ASAP if you would like us to order you one.  The cost is $20 to make one and the proceeds go towards supporting our school.  The Vodka, Latkes, and Karaoke event will be on Saturday night, December 12th.  

May it be a Shabbat of peace.
Shabbat Shalom.